As soon as someone finds out they need orthodontic treatment, the first thing they typically want to know is, “What are my options?” A lot of patients want to know if braces are their only option or if they can choose another popular treatment, such as Invisalign aligners. There are lots of questions when it comes to choosing between Invisalign and braces. Which will be more affordable, and which will be more effective? At Seabreeze Orthodontics, our goal is to help you explore all your options to find out which is best for you and your smile. We’re going to take a look at our two most popular treatment options, braces and Invisalign, and give you all the information you need to help you decide which is best for your smile and your lifestyle.


The Bottom Line

Invisalign and braces are designed to straighten teeth while improving your smile. Braces are metal brackets that are glued to your teeth, and tied together by wires and tiny rubber bands. They’ve been around for a while, and have an established history of treatment. Today’s braces are more discreet and comfortable than ever before. Nowadays you can get brackets that resemble your enamel color to make them less noticeable. You can also get them in colors to make an artistic statement with your mouth.


Meanwhile, Invisalign is a newer type of treatment, and has only been around for about 15 years. However, it still gains popularity each year because of its discreet nature and flexibility. Invisalign was designed to be completely invisible. The aligner trays are made from comfortable, smooth, BPA-free clear plastic that is designed to be worn over your teeth to gently and subtly move your teeth. Impressions, pictures, and X-rays are used to create a precise 3-D image of your teeth.


Head to Head Comparison

Let’s compare braces and Invisalign head to head, shall we?



Teeange girl with braces lying on a blanket

Let’s begin with the obvious fact that braces are not removable. Braces are made of metal and are extremely efficient at fixing more complex issues, and they typically work faster than Invisalign and closing gaps in teeth. Treatment time varies from patient to patient, but most treatment with braces last between 18 months to 3 years. This may seem like a long time, but movement of teeth can often be noticed in a very short span of time, and that can be a big encouragement to keep up with your treatment!


One of the things that make patients shy away from braces is the amount of maintenance that goes into braces. The brackets and wires can be tricky to get around, especially when it comes to flossing, but as we all know, dental hygiene is an absolute must. Thankfully, there are accessories to make flossing easier, such as water piks that can knock debris off of teeth and interdental brushes that can get into those hard to reach spots.


Another issue that some patients have with braces is that foods are limited with braces. Patients in braces have to give up crunchy and sticky foods while undergoing treatment, and that can include favorites like popcorn, gum, caramel apples, some candy bars, and more.


Patients will need to visit their orthodontist every 4-6 weeks to get their braces adjusted. During these adjustments, your orthodontist will change the bands on your brackets, and you’ll get to pick the colors of your braces for the next month! The wire will also be tightened or replaced. These appointments usually only take about a half an hour, and there might be some soreness afterwards but this will subside after a day or two. It’s very important that you don’t skip on these appointments! Any postponed or skipped appointment can ensure that your braces will stay on longer than your original treatment plan, and we want you to get the best results in the shortest amount of time.



orthodontist giving teenage girl patient invisalign aligner

The two biggest pros of Invisalign are what makes it such a popular treatment option: the fact that they are removable, and that they are invisible. Plastic molds are considered more comfortable than metal braces, and they won’t irritate the gums and inside of cheeks like the brackets and wire might.


Since these aligners are less invasive than braces, it’s a little harder to determine how long treatment will take. The average is between 6 and 18 months, but that can vary from patient to patient. This is also very dependent on a patient’s willingness to wear their aligner for the designated 20-22 hours a day, because any deviation from this can keep the patient in treatment longer.


Since aligners are removable, this gives patients an easier time with brushing and flossing their teeth. There’s no brackets and wires to maneuver around, and no special brushes are needed. Another pro to this is that patients have to remove their aligners to eat and drink, so that means there are no food restrictions! You can still eat those pretzels and popcorn and can floss with ease if any bits get stuck between your teeth.


Like braces, patients with Invisalign will be expected to visit their orthodontist every 4-6 weeks for follow-up visits. You’ll also be switching out aligners every 1-2 weeks, because you’ll need to keep up with the shifting of your teeth. If you skip appointments or don’t change out your aligners when they’re ready, this can push treatment back further.


The Final Call

The right choice for improving your smile and straightening your teeth is an important decision to make. We know that whatever treatment you pick isn’t just about improving your smile, but improving your overall oral health, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. The experts here at Seabreeze Orthodontics are happy to help you decide! If you’re in the Myrtle Beach area and are trying to figure out what orthodontic treatment is best for you, get in touch with us and let us help you find the right treatment. Our experienced and friendly staff is able to help answer any questions you may have about the differences between Invisalign and braces, and I can help you get fitted with your best treatment. Seabreeze Orthodontics is dedicated to helping you get the smile you’ve dreamed of and keeping your mouth healthy for years to come!



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